An Interview with Deborah Wing-Sproul

Deborah Wing Sproul

Submitted by Sarah.Lou on Mon, 09/19/2011 – 12:08pm

above photo: Deborah Wing-Sproul, Footfall (detail), 2011
I recently had the pleasure to exchange a few words with Maine artist, Deborah Wing-Sproul about her work and her thoughts for younger artists in Maine. Be sure to check out her show at the CMCA October 1 – December 11, 2011. For more information please visit the CMCA website

Sarah Cottrell:

For those who are not familiar with your work can you briefly describe what kind of work you do and what you are interested in as an artist?

Deborah Wing-Sproul:

I’m interested in that which is uniquely personal and that which is socially/culturally relevant (relevant to others but also relevant within a contemporary and cultural framework). I’m looking for ways to translate ideas in two directions at the same time: inside to outside and outside to inside. I’m interested in finding nuanced ways of articulating my personal voice while also responding to (as a way of participating in) current conditions in the world. My practice embraces several disciplines: performance, video, film, printmaking, photography, sound and sculpture (though I prefer “object making” to sculpture as the prior conjures up stone monuments etc., which is not at all what I do/make). My work is conceptually driven. Sometimes the same idea materializes in more than one medium, either as part of a simultaneous and integrated practice or as discrete gestures. My body is the primary medium–everything is an extension of it in one way or another–it provides the connective tissue for all of these otherwise seemingly disparate practices. I was a dancer and choreographer many years ago. However, the specific ways in which I use my body are not based so much on any kind of technical movement. Instead, I’m interested in the physical body as something we all have–not something that is trained specifically for one thing or another. I don’t think my work stems from having been a dancer so much as I became a dancer because then, too, I was looking for ways to articulate and amplify what I knew to be true within my body.

Sarah Cottrell:

I am excited about your upcoming show at the CMCA. Can you talk a little bit about the piece you have in that show titled Still / Moving?

Deborah Wing-Sproul:

Actually there are no works in the exhibition of that title. Rather, “still / moving” speaks to all of the works in the exhibition, in that I’m engaging with the space between (to quote from Nancy Princenthal’s catalogue essay) “stasis and mobility”. I think of stillness as a kind of quiet. I identify with John Cage’s reflections on silence–there is no silence, there’s always some kind of sound, however subtle it may be. Similarly, there is no “stillness,” there is always some measure of movement. It’s just a question of how keenly you listen or look and how fast you’re going in comparison. In keeping with the larger arc of my practice, all of the works in this exhibition function as an extension of my body in all its various stages of stillness or movement.

Sarah Cottrell:

As a successful interdisciplinary artist in Maine can you talk just a little bit about what kinds of skills young Maine artists will need to be successful themselves?

Deborah Wing-Sproul:

Trust your instincts. Be true to yourself. Be informed. Be a diligent and rigorous researcher. Persevere. There is no roadmap to being an artist. You just have to do it. The path a person takes will, ultimately, be uniquely her/his own. This comes back to following your instincts. Instincts are like fingerprints; they’re unique. I know that all of this might sound vague and not terribly helpful, but in truth it’s that simple.

Deborah Wing-Sproul: still / moving a solo exhibition in three parts

October 1–December 11, 2011 Reception, Saturday, October 1, 4–6 pm

Center for Maine Contemporary Art Rockport, Maine
Durational Devices + photographic prints + video works

October 1 – December 11, CMCA galleries

embodiment durational performance Saturday, October 15, Pascal Hall*, 4:30-6:30 pm

Footfall video screening Saturday, October 15, Pascal Hall*, 4:30-6:30
A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies this exhibition, with essays by MASS MoCA Curator, Denise Markonish and writer/critic Nancy Princenthal. Available for purchase at CMCA.


162 Russell Avenue, Rockport

Tuesday – Saturday: 10 am to 5 pm

Sunday: 1 to 5 pm

Closed Monday

*Pascal Hall is located at 86 Pascal Avenue, Rockport

The artist’s Tidal Culture: Part VI (Outer Hebrides) and exhibition catalogue were funded in part by grants from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.